This semester I created an amateur personal blog for our Publishing 101 class and learned the basic “ins and outs” of WordPress templates for online content creation. While some of my classmates created blogs about food, travel or websites showcasing their musical career, I focused more on learning about online content creation and website building. My website’s content was more of a personal blog, as I found content creation to be the hardest part of the exercise itself. I felt as though I wasn’t accomplishing anything (this semester) interesting enough to have a blog about, as I go to school full time and work an average of thirty hours a week. So my audience was non-existent. That is not to say personal blogs don’t find audiences regardless. An example of this fact is comedian Mike Birbiglia. Birbiglia started as a blogger who would write about his travels and post his material online. The final result ended up with him turning the most popular stories into his first one hour stand-up special: My Secret Public Journal (Birbiglia, 2015). So it can be done. For me, I found I personally didn’t have the time this semester to do anything that would be content worthy, other than my weekly attendance in the inaugural class of Yuk Yuks University. I did manage to capture the attention of a small following. Ultimately though, the lack of time and dedication towards keeping the viewer’s interest proved the need for two important components in order to be a successful blogger: commitment and follow through on content. As a result, the most important take away for me from this course was: time management. I am excited to take more publishing courses in the future, but upon reflection, think I would excel more at the marketing and advertising aspect, so that the focus is less about the content creation and more about the message itself.
Publishing 101 provides an overall introduction to the world of publishing, especially for Communications students like me, who have no idea how to create the digital media format we have spent years studying about. Finally, a chance to do some “hands on” learning. My favourite readings included the week four reading: Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse (Gertz, 2015). I loved the way it outlined the similarities of how websites were built using the same site layout. Readings I did not like were: the week 7 reading by John Green (2013), I didn’t have an issue with the article itself, more so the fact that the link was broken and never corrected. The other reading retrieved from the website: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2017-who-replies-to-trumps-tweets/ felt as though it didn’t align with the course content. It felt as though it had been added more for the political aspect, rather than the context of the overall course content for the week.
While I found it enjoyable to work on the design on my blog, I don’t think I will continue using my blog for now. For me, it is about the commitment of the time required to be a successful blogger. This course has inspired me to pledge more personal commentary on online articles, since I have opinions to voice on social media. The websites I frequent for news and culture tend to be: Facebook and the A.V club. The only other online attachment I participate in is watching YouTube. As an online content creator, I think the medium itself is in a bit of a jumble. Facebook has lost its original message of “connection” for a few years now. Facebook used to be a place to build an online community. Participants shared images, wrote statuses, everything on the site was created by the users on your friends list, a personal newsletter from the key people in your life. Sometime in 2011, the focus began to change. Facebook became less about sharing personal updates and more about sharing content. When I go on my Facebook newsfeed now by comparison to 2011, it is mainly just people re-sharing videos and photos, I can’t tell you the last time I actually read a status update that was a personal comment and not a political statement. As a result, other websites have begun to form to recapture sharing people’s actual lived moments in time. Instagram is now the place for people to share their photos and post personal updates. Communication via Twitter is on the rise (not just socially, but academically and in the corporate world) as well (Williams, 2018).
Another website I find it hard to create content for is: YouTube. The original message of YouTube was “Broadcast Yourself” however, every two weeks it seems there is another scandal arising from Google combined with excessive demands required to participate. The way the YouTube algorithm works promotes the top viewed users approved by Google. It is no longer a social network of people sharing content, but more of a sponsored hub of creators that have the same Into/Outro/Personality. The top YouTubers’ of 2008 was a drastically different mix of contributors compared to the top YouTubers’ of today. Nowadays, YouTube is focused more on maintaining corporate relations and staying “advertiser friendly” – than letting its users find special hidden video content. I’m not sure if it’s possible anymore for someone to create an account (out of the blue) and start posting videos, with no experience in content creation. Clearly, in today’s market there is a very visible bubble of who the algorithm picks to promote.
While I think it is important to have a digital identity, I find the people I talk to about social media, are just tired and fed up. Social media has become more of a hotbed for political propaganda and scandal, for example: Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica indiscretion (Wikipedia, 2018). Society appears to be leaning towards avoiding or just completely deleting their social media accounts, as the trust in these online websites has disintegrated. I believe something new is on the horizon and will stir things up in the world of online social media. We have been stuck in a digital monopoly for quite some time and it’s starting to show in the content of the websites themselves. It is ironic to me that in 2004, Facebook was initiated under a cloud of theft and fraud with Mark Zuckerberg being accused of stealing the algorithm from his dorm mates and now fourteen years later, the very same accusation in relation to data mining, may be its undoing (Carlson, 2010).
Birbiglia, M. (2015). My secret public journal. Retrieved from: https://mysecretpublicjournal.blogspot.ca
Carlson, N. (2010). At last – the full story of how Facebook was founded. Business Insider. Retrieved from: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-facebook-was-founded-2010-3
Gertz, T. (2015). Design machines. How to survive in the digital apocalypse. Retrieved from: https://louderthanten.com/articles/story/design-machines
Green, J. (2013). On self-publishing and Amazon. Retrieved from: http://fishingboatproceeds.tumblr.com/post/31026577075/on-self-publishing-and-amazon
Mosendz, P. (2017). The seven types of people who tweet at Trump. Retrieved from: https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2017-who-replies-to-trumps-tweets/
Wikipedia, (2018). Cambridge Analytica. Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambridge_Analytica
Williams, S. (2018). 4 ways to use Twitter for schools to increase engagement. Campus Suite. Retrieved from: https://www.campussuite.com/4-ways-use-twitter-for-schools-increase-engagement/